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Cop's 'careless' driving primary cause of crash with fleeing motorcyclist, IPCA report finds

A police officer drove "carelessly" during a pursuit, which was the primary cause of a collision in which a fleeing motorcyclist was injured, the Independent Police Conduct Authority has found.

Police were found to be travelling too close to a fleeing motorcyclist which resulted in a crash in Christchurch in 2017.

The two officers involved were also found to have breached policy in remaining armed throughout this event following an earlier incident in which they were armed, and drawing their firearms when approaching the motorcyclist after the crash.

The officers said they saw a dark figure ride past on a motorcycle. The man was riding in what they considered to be a dangerous manner, so they pursued him.

After the crash on Waltham Street about 3.15am on August 30, 2017 in which the motorcyclist hit the police car then fell onto a concrete footpath, the two officers got out of the police car with their pistols drawn but aimed towards the ground. The officers approached and handcuffed the rider.

The motorcyclist sustained a broken ankle after the crash and police called an ambulance when they realised he was injured.

Authority Chair, Judge Colin Doherty said, "the officer’s manner of driving was, at the very least, careless".

"The officer did not drive in accordance with best practice for a pursuit, as he was following the motorcycle too closely, and was not aware of the speed at which the police car or motorcycle were travelling."

Acting District Commander Superintendent Mike Johnson said police accept the finding and was considering what action be taken in relation to the officers.

"The decision to pursue a fleeing driver is one of the most complex and difficult decisions Police officers have to make," Mr Johnson said in a statement.

A recent IPCA review into fleeing drivers has found that while police manage fleeing driver events well, there is room for improvement especially around risk assessments.

Police and the IPCA have developed an action plan to improve cognitive training and support for fleeing driver events.

A file image of two police officers.
A file image of two police officers. Source: rnz.co.nz